Volunteer and retired career firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer will soon have greater access to compensation, following the introduction of a compensation bill last week.
Member for the Agricultural Region, Martin Aldridge MLC welcomed last Wednesday’s introduction of the Firefighters and Emergency Volunteers Legislation Amendment (Compensation) Bill 2016 into the lower house, which reverses the burden of proof for volunteer and retired firefighters who contract one of twelve prescribed cancers.
“Volunteer firefighters make up the vast majority of our frontline response, and it is fitting that following the passage of this legislation, the law will recognise the service they provide on the same level as our serving career firefighters,” Mr Aldridge said.
“This legislation protects those who provide such a vital service to the community, sometimes to the detriment of their own safety and welfare.”
Similar legislation was introduced in 2014 to provide career firefighters access to compensation and support in the event that they contract the same cancers.
The reforms will result in the law presuming volunteer firefighters whom contract a prescribed cancer is as a result of their service, unless rebutted by the State.
Mr Aldridge said the legislation will provide relief for all firefighters and their families affected by cancer.
“Volunteer firefighters affected by these cancers will no longer have to prove their case to the responsible agency or their insurers,” Mr Aldridge said.
“The burden of proof will be reversed, taking the pressure off people who should be focused on their health and recovery rather than engaging in prolonged legal battles.”
Mr Aldridge also commended the State Government on extending the provisions to retired career firefighters, who were unable to be covered in previous legislative reforms.
“It is often much later in one’s career or in retirement that these health conditions become evident,” Mr Aldridge said.
“This legislation will ensure retired career firefighters don’t slip through the cracks.
“I look forward to having the opportunity to consider the detail of the bill, and I look forward to it progressing to provide much needed support to our firefighting community.”
Mr Aldridge invited volunteer brigades and members of the community to contact him with feedback on the bill, which can be found at http://bit.ly/VolunteerCompensationBill
For media enquiries please contact Martin Aldridge MLC on (08) 9324 3155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org